There are all kinds of love. I'm not talking courtly love--which for all intents and purposes doesn't exist anymore. I mean friendship. Love withers without friendship and friendship can blossom into love. Friendship is (forgive the pun) the heart of love.
For me my friends are some of the most important things in my life. When I'm away from my family, those dear friends of mine become my family. I know some people find me unapproachable and difficult to know, and that makes sense. I often agree with them. I think of my heart as concentric circles, each with their own wall. The outermost wall is probably pretty average. It's relatively easy to see me and make assumptions. But even a good acquaintance has to make it inside the next wall. It's considerably higher and more intimidating. The people who find themselves here are usually the ones that I meet in wards and classes, we find each other incredibly entertaining and convenient and when the situation ends we never see each other again. I'm really bad at keeping in touch with people, always have been. The last wall can look impossible. Usually the people who find themselves in there are family, people who I have known well for an extended period of time (like, years), or in some rare cases--people who excel at reading me and pulled a Reagan.* For me, most of these dear friends are as close as family. Once someone finds their way into the inner circle of my heart, it will be just as hard to get out again. I am fiercely protective and unwaveringly loyal to this small group. Just because I don't always agree with things that they do doesn't mean I wouldn't do anything for them. I am also terribly wary of people who try and wedge themselves in. The surest way to make an enemy of me is to brutally injure a dear friend. I tend to get angry at these people far more easily than the ones who do harm to me. Of course, generally as soon as my friend tells me they've forgiven the person--I tend to get over my anger very quickly. I really don't like feeling mad, and I guess it just isn't in me to hate people :). Oh the secrets you blog readers discover about me.
I was talking to one of these dear friends of mine today, and had one of those inner epiphanies as I tried to explain something to him. I have always been almost overly empathic. I love it because it really helps me to relate to people because I can almost feel the same thing they feel. When they are in pain, I feel it; and when they feel joy I share in that too. He told me that it was one of my gifts, and that it would bring me to love others more. I have never thought of it as a gift before, and I really appreciated the sentiment.
I suppose the whole wall analogy is sort of a moot point with this audience. If you know me well enough to be reading my blog you're at least a close acquaintance, if not a dear friend or family. Perhaps this will simply help you to understand how I work better. There are few things I look for more in a relationship that a feeling of understanding.
There are few things I love more than dear friends.
*For those who didn't get rather obscure reference: "Mr. Gorbachev--tear down this wall"